Archive | October, 2013

DIY Reversible Marche Bag

27 Oct

Not long ago, I sew a felt Marche bag for a friend. Today, I recycled the pattern and made another one in cotton fabric for another friend. I like the combination of the navy blue fabric and the pink checkered fabric, so sweet, like my friend. 🙂

2013-10-27 10.50.32


How to Choose a Contractor

20 Oct

7 contestants, 1 winner. Who’s the winner of Project Renovation?

Alright. I’m an ardent fan of Project Runway and that’s why I’m calling this selection for a contractor Project Renovation. 😉

project renovation

Contestant No. 1 (S)

S had many ideas and suggestions when he contacted me on the phone. However, during the on-site review, he showed a lack of interest and was not confident when I posed him some questions about the conditions of the ceiling and the arrangement of furniture. He also suggested some impractical ideas such as placing a hammock in my living room. I was thinking “Yes, I wanted a beach/coastal theme but why would I need a hammock for?”

Verdict: OUT

Contestant No. 2 (T)

T didn’t even bother to return my sms or email. So, I guess he’s just not interested in the project.

Verdict: OUT

Contestant No. 3 (D1)

D1 was a typical sales person kind of contractor. I can sense his experience as he surveyed the unit. However, his super-confident “I can do anything and everything” attitude was just not my cup of tea. I don’t think we will have a good working relationship as he would most probably dictate the project.

Verdict: OUT

Contestant No. 4 (D2)

D2 was very young but he seemed to be quite experienced as he surveyed the unit and took measurements. He was able to answer most of my questions and gave suggestions to the layout of furniture. He submitted a detailed 1st quotation and was among the top 3 contestants. However, he made a few careless errors and blunders when he submitted his 2nd quotation. He was also late in submitting his 2nd quotation, so my confidence in him did dropped slightly and I decided to choose another contractor.

Verdict: 2nd runner-up

Contestant No. 5 (Y)

Y was the only one who was on time for the on-site review. He was very experienced in surveying the unit and taking measurements. He was the only one who noticed that the kitchen’s ceiling is lower than the living room’s ceiling. He was able to give good suggestions and he sent in a detailed 1st quotation too. His quotes aren’t the lowest but I chose him in the end because of his experience and his special method in building the counter for the sink.

Verdict: Winner

Contestant No. 6 (F)

F was from a big reputable company recommended by my agent. He surveyed the unit and was able to answer my questions. But when I asked him whether he needs to take measurements, he said there was no such need. That really gave me an impression that he wasn’t interested in my small project at all. He came most probably because his boss was my agent’s friend. His 1st quotation was a combination of a package price + extra things that I requested. After comparing with other quotations, I found his not detailed enough with some important things such as lighting left out.

Verdict: OUT

Contestant No. 7 (W)

W was a very meticulous person who had very good suggestions to save money. His team’s workmanship was very good when he showed me a unit that he did for a lady. This goes to show that he has good working relationship with his clients. He was one of the top three too. However, what makes me drop him was that he sent in a 1st quotation that was not fully broken down. Also, I feel that my project was not suitable for him. He’s a contractor who takes real pride in his work and uses good materials (can be expensive) and I had a really really tight budget. So, I decided to choose Y over W even though W’s quotation was the cheapest.

Verdict: OUT

The winner for Project Renovation is Y! Y is Mr Yeak from Basic Image and Design. Do come back for more on the progress of the renovation. 🙂

What to Ask a Contractor? (Invitation to Project Renovation)

13 Oct

project renovation

Now that I had a list of 7 contractors, my next step was how to approach them and ask them for quotations. I’ve searched the internet and came up with 10 questions for the contractors.

Questions for contractors

  1. What’s your company’s name?
  2. Are you a registered renovation contractor with HDB?
  3. How long have you been in the business?
  4. How do you work? Do you have your own workers? Or do you have a few sub-contractors working for you?
  5. Have you renovated 3-room resale flats (or your house model) before? Are there any references that you can show me?
  6. Do you have any renovation packages? Would you advise me to go for package or “ala-carte”? If I’m going for “ala-carte”, how would you charge for the things that I would like to have?
  7. How is your schedule like? If you were hired for this project, when can you start and what is the estimated completion date?
  8. How do you intend to keep me updated of the progress of the renovation work?
  9. What suggestions or advice do you have for the ideas I proposed?
  10. How do I pay? Is it progressively or one lump sum on completion?

First I sms the contractors on the list and ask for their email addresses. Then I email them the ideas and the things I would like to do for my house, as well as the floor plan. I’ve also posed the above questions to them. Some contractors (the younger ones) replied the emails with detailed answers while some (the uncles) called to explain via phone. In fact the contractor that I’ve decided on did not even reply! I had to sms him to ask him if he preferred to talk on the phone instead of through emails.

I then invited the contractors to my new house to survey the place so that their quotations are based on realistic measurements. They can also made a better judgement as to whether there’s a need to hack the existing tiles or not. They’ll be able to foresee any problems that may occur too. Hence it’s important to arrange an on-site review before you ask them to quote.

Now that the invitations had been sent out, the contest “Project Renovation” kick-started! Stay tuned for the introduction on each participant! 😉


Contractor or Interior Designer?

6 Oct

After I’ve gotten my keys to my new flat, the first thing I did is to check the place and padlock the place. It’s important to check the place to see if everything you’ve requested the previous owner to throw or keep is done properly. If anything is wrong, always contact the previous owner either yourself or via your agent.

Then the most exciting and problematic phase began – the hunt for a contractor or ID. In my case, after some online research and hearsay, I decided to look for a contractor (main con) rather than an ID. Reasons being:

  • a contractor is cheaper; no design fees
  • there are too many horrible stories about irresponsible IDs (not that there aren’t with contractors, but less)
  • I do have an idea what I want to do, so there’s no need for design work

There have to be contestants or participants for the hunt. So how or where do I get them? Well, most of the contractors on my list are recommendations from friends. There’s one recommended by my housing agent. The only one not recommended is the one that I’ve found after searching online renovation forums for months.

Every contractor that my friends recommended, I ran a check on them on the HDB list approved contractors and online forums for reviews. For some, I managed to get some information, for others, there’s nothing on them at all. Don’t panic if you can’t find them on the HDB list. According to some of the contractors, the approval is given to companies that do hacking only. So, for some contractors, they get their sister companies to do the hacking and they are not on the approved list.

Once the list is finalised, the “contest” begins! 😉 Before you continue reading my other posts on the choosing procedure, take part in the poll below. 🙂